Top Ten Tips for Going Back to Work
When I started writing Mommy Wars five years ago, I was desperate to connect with other moms battling the "inner mommy war" -- that incessant voice in my head questioning whether my choices about work and family were right for my kids, my husband, the universe ... and oh, yes, me. I got what I needed -- wisdom, self-deprecating humor, camaraderie and advice from other moms. Between the lines of the 26 essays in Mommy Wars, I also found outstanding, practical advice on how and when to leave the work force to stay home -- and how and when to go back.
I collected all the collective wisdom from the Mommy Wars contributors, moms I met on book tour, headhunters, human resources managers, and hundreds of comments from posters on this blog. Here it is, boiled down to my Top Ten Tips For Going Back to Work listed below -- and you can find more advice for moms heading back to work in a condensed version of my Today Show interview with Ann Curry, How Stay At Home Moms Can Go Back to Work.
Top Ten Tips for Going Back to Work
1) Get determined to go back. Women often leave work for good reasons -- to be with children, because they're frustrated by a less-than-family-friendly work schedule, to support husband's demanding career. So naturally SAHMS often feel conflicted about returning to work. Can I juggle work and motherhood? Will my kids suffer? Will my partner be supportive? Are my skills still valued by the workplace? You cannot project ambivalence to potential employers or waste valuable interview time justifying your choices. Women report this process can take up to a year.
2) Ask for help! Get a buddy or paid coach or take a class to help you develop a compelling resume and job interview skills. Writing a resume based on skills -- not chronological promotions and achievements -- can be hard. Projecting confidence in an interview is also a big challenge to someone who has been home for years. But, as in any job interview, confidence is key. A critical mistake is to sell yourself short. Tip: Working moms can be critical allies in helping SAHMs get back to work.
3) Invest in yourself before (and after) you leave the work force. The better your education and the more impressive your career achievements, the more options you will have when you return to work. Tip: instead of over-volunteering at school or helicopter parenting, take a class in your field or volunteer in your area of expertise.
4) Be realistic and determined; don't expect the job market to respect, validate or reward your decision to stay home with children.
5) Stay in the same city and in the same field. Returning to work is simpler if you remain in the same geographic area and the same area of expertise so you can leverage your prior contacts and professional reputation. Beware of moving too often for your spouse's career. Don't assume other fields are less competitive or more family-friendly without hard evidence. Changing careers and geographies often means starting over.
6) Go back full time: Unfortunately, part-time jobs remain elusive for anyone at any stage in their careers. Instead of holding out for the perfect part-time job, look for a full-time job with a family-friendly employer who gives employees flexibility on a daily basis.
7) Keep up your network! This jaded advice holds true -- but it doesn't mean an awkward call to your old HR manager every January. Keep up with your FRIENDS from work and your industry. Maintain professional connections in ways that feel comfortable to you.
8) Stay (somewhat) current on major new technology trends in your field. Lawyers need to read up on Sarbanes-Oxley. Marketers need to keep tabs on Internet marketing. Certified professionals keep your accreditations current. Go to an industry conference or meeting to brush up on lingo and savvy.
9) Go back within 10 years. Headhunters and human resource managers say a three- to five-year absence is now relatively easy to explain. Ten-plus years is a lot harder. Also, age-related bias (hardly on our radars in our 30s or 40s) becomes real for men and women as we move into 50 and beyond.
And here's my favorite advice, from On Balance reader Jenn:
10) "Never give up, never surrender. :)"
Which of these resonate most with you? What are your tips?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: happydad | March 10, 2008 6:36 AM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 7:41 AM
Posted by: amy | March 10, 2008 7:49 AM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 8:01 AM
Posted by: RedBird27 | March 10, 2008 8:56 AM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 9:06 AM
Posted by: londonmom | March 10, 2008 9:07 AM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 9:15 AM
Posted by: lourd | March 10, 2008 9:34 AM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 10:01 AM
Posted by: londonmom | March 10, 2008 10:11 AM
Posted by: postreader118 | March 10, 2008 10:34 AM
Posted by: GutlessCoward | March 10, 2008 12:23 PM
Posted by: Billie_R | March 10, 2008 1:11 PM
Posted by: laura33 | March 10, 2008 1:30 PM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 1:46 PM
Posted by: mdrong | March 10, 2008 1:59 PM
Posted by: mehitabel | March 10, 2008 2:00 PM
Posted by: bridgmanyang | March 10, 2008 2:02 PM
Posted by: emily111 | March 10, 2008 2:07 PM
Posted by: lourd | March 10, 2008 2:20 PM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 4:05 PM
Posted by: sue | March 10, 2008 4:22 PM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 5:09 PM
Posted by: LizaBean | March 10, 2008 5:13 PM
Posted by: sue | March 10, 2008 5:40 PM
Posted by: HadhratKhadija | March 10, 2008 5:57 PM
Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 6:14 PM
Posted by: OrlandoNan | March 12, 2008 4:23 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.